Stripping paint from old minis

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Post Mon Feb 18, 2019 2:09 pm

Stripping paint from old minis

Hi guys,

I've been buying a few old miniatures and games from ebay recently, and one of the things I've come across is the occasional miniature that's already been painted.

This must be an occupational hazard of collecting old miniatures, so I was wondering what you guys use to strip paint off old metal and plastic miniatures?

Stuart Templeton

I may not be good but I'm slow!

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Post Mon Feb 18, 2019 2:39 pm

Re: Stripping paint from old minis

DETTTOL and toothbrush
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Location: Hitchin, UK

Post Mon Feb 18, 2019 7:50 pm

Re: Stripping paint from old minis

Check out the old thread here

FWIW, after using Dettol for many years, I switched over to Biostrip as it’s a bit less smelly & messy.
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Post Tue Feb 19, 2019 4:23 pm

Re: Stripping paint from old minis

Thanks chaps, you're life savers - I have some Hybrids that look like they've been painted with a roller (or dunked) and it'd be great to try and save them.
Stuart Templeton

I may not be good but I'm slow!

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Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2016 1:38 pm

Post Tue Feb 19, 2019 7:46 pm

Re: Stripping paint from old minis

Sonic bath, clean spirit, tooth brush. Then a scrub down with some soapy water
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Post Thu Feb 21, 2019 5:17 pm

Re: Stripping paint from old minis

I've had very good resaults with BioStrip2.0, though don't use it on resin as it goes soft.
I wrote a little blog about it sometime ago, as I found other things just didn't cut it with some of the stuff I tried.

http://cantsleeppaint.hairylittleewok.c ... strip.html
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Post Tue Feb 26, 2019 10:58 am

Re: Stripping paint from old minis

I always followed this when I was at the same point as you: ... an-up.html

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Joined: Sat Aug 02, 2014 5:06 pm

Post Thu Mar 07, 2019 8:28 pm

Re: Stripping paint from old minis

i too used to use dettol and have been converted to biostrip. its so much easier to use and works better.

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Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2018 12:29 pm

Post Fri Mar 15, 2019 7:23 pm

The (pen)ultimate guide to stripping minis

(Pen)ultimate guide to stripping minis

Scroll down for the short version!

I say (pen)ultimate because I haven't investigated every last thing (and resin minis hardly at all), and haven't done so scientifically, but I have done a LOT of stripping recently and can report the following:

The general stuff:
1. There is no single agent that will reliably strip metal, resin and plastic minis. You need to use different things.
2. Not all paint is the same. Different formulas are harder to get rid of and 30-year-old paint is harder to shift than last year's. Some primers etch which makes them harder to budge.
3. Get an electric toothbrush. Unfortunately, no matter what stripper you use, scrubbing is required, and this will speed everything up so, so much.
4. Get some long self-locking tweezers of the type used for soldering. They are very useful for fishing models out of jars of gunk without getting it everywhere.
5. Work outside if at all possible and put down cardboard or lots of layers of newspaper, because a. most paint strippers stink, b. it's hard to avoid the odd stray spatter of stripper, and this will do less damage outdoors than in, and c. your spouse will like you better :D

What works:
1. Cellulose thinners is the best for metal minis, but it will melt plastic and resin.
Wear rubber gloves, old clothes and a mask and work outside if at all possible, or at the very least in a really well ventilated garage. You do not want this stuff indoors. Fill a glass jar with thinners and leave the models in there for a bit. On some paints it will start working right away but I usually leave them overnight for good measure. After this time most of the paint will have dissolved or gone gooey and will fall off easily. There might still be paint residue in crevices, depending on the type/age of paint. Take out a few models at a time with your self locking tweezers and give them a scrub with your toothbrush. You only take out a few at a time because thinners evaporates really fast, and after only about 5 minutes any paint remaining on the mini will have gone hard again and won't scrub off. You can dip the toothbrush or the model in thinners again and the paint will soften and you can get back to scrubbing.
Basically I advise everyone to use this for metals because it is quicker, easier and, suprisingly, less stinky than many alternatives. It is the only thing that will shift the most stubborn of old paints and etched primers. Its only real disadvantage is that it's toxic and smelly, what with it being a very powerful solvent, and you need to be careful not to huff it too hard, hence the clothing/mask advice.

2. Biostrip generally works on metals but takes a long time and cannot handle the oldest and most stubborn of paints. It will soften and ruin resin. Some plastics seem to be ok in it, but others are definitely not, like resin they go soft and are ruined.
You get it sold as 'biostrip 20' or wilko's does its own brand of the same stuff which is cheaper. In any case, it's a thick, opaque white gunk sold in short fat tubs. You just throw the minis in the tub and leave them for a few days and then take them out and scrub them. Most paint will peel off, and then there will be more stubborn bits left, so throw them back in the tub for a few more days. It won't shift the most stubborn of paint though, stuck in the recesses and detail of old models. This said it has some real advantages: a. it barely stinks at all - you could use it indoors just fine, b. it washes off in hot soapy water dead easy, and c. it softens superglue, so if you have an otherwise clean model with lots of very hard old dried glue obscuring the detail, that you don't want to risk chipping off, fling it in biostrip for a few days and the glue will peel or scrub away. One problem is that being opaque it can be fiddly to fish out smaller models from the tub since you can't see them. Also you can end up going through it quite quickly as it's very thick and unless you fastidiously brush off the excess from the models back into the tub you can lose quite a lot when you wash it off.
This is the one to use for minimum stink and ease of use, although it will not shift the most stubborn of paints. I use it for its superglue-softening powers.

3. Dettol (the one with chloroxylenol) generally works on metal and plastic but like biostrip it will not shift the most stubborn paints. As for resin, I don't know. It doesn't seem to harm green stuff.
Its main problem is that it absolutely f*****g stinks, is gloopy and unpleasant to work with, and dettol-ified paint will turn to glue on contact with water. So once more you get your gloves and old clothes, and a jar or sealable plastic tub and put your minis in there with the dettol, and leave them overnight at least, or for a few days for good measure. Don't overfill your tub with minis because the dettol doesn't fully dissolve the paint but turns it to gloop, and when you come to take the minis out you want the gloop to fall away into the liquid and not get stuck all over the other minis in there. Fish the minis out with your tweezers and slide the gloop off with your fingers or a plain old (not electric) toothbrush. You don't want the aggressive scrubbing of the electric just yet - all it will do is clog up with gloop. Once all the gloop is gone you can use the electric toothbrush to scrub away what remains. Finally scrub with neat washing up liquid (do not use water!) and leave to dry. Then you can rinse in hot water. After a couple of dozen minis stripped, the dettol will have gone a grey colour and will be opaque and full of goopy paint. At this point it will leave just as much crap on the minis as it takes off, so chuck it and use a fresh tub. As with biostrip, there will be stubborn paint in crevices that doesn't respond to dettol.
Dettol is what I use for plastics.

The also-rans:
Acetone. Don't bother. Stinks as bad or worse than thinners and is not as effective. Just use thinners.
Isopropyl alcohol/isopropanol. Don't bother. Stinks. The one time I tried, it had barely any effect. I am fairly certain that IPA is NOT the active ingredient in dettol, I think it's the chloroxylenol.
Meths. Smells but not as much as IPA or acetone. I have heard people have success with it on plastics. I haven't tried I'm afraid. I did try on metal and it was fairly shoddy, needing lots of scrubbing and leaving lots of paint in recesses.
Brake fluid. Haven't tried it but really, if you are happy using nasty chemicals... just use thinners.

A note on Ultrasonic cleaners:
Proceed with caution. I bought one to try and as well as not working very well it severely pitted the metal models I put in it. Next test I run I will fill it with meths and put plastics in.

:D OK that's it! Have fun stripping! :D

The short version:
For metal minis, use cellulose thinners, or, if you don't mind spending more time and want to reduce exposure to nasty solvents, use biostrip. For plastics, use dettol. Get an electric toothbrush!

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Post Sat May 11, 2019 8:52 pm

Re: Stripping paint from old minis

If you're in the UK I can recommend a trip to Wilko for this ... /p/0299049
I switched from Dettol after seeing the results for myself. Put a handful of minis in an old jam-jar, pour it over, make sure they're covered and leave to work. Works in about 30 mins. Rinse and clean. Doesn't make everything smell of Dettol.

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